Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A dash of BlackMilk

What I love about being in touch with some of the avant garde happenings in Cape Town is that occasionally I get to play fly on the wall when stuff is created. As you can well imagine, this creates much fodder for my future writings. What I’d like to share with you today is a short film the BlackMilk productions crew created over this past weekend.

My husband is one of the directors and I’ve been behind the scenes for all their films. This is hardly as glamorous as it sounds, let me assure you, but with all the hard work also comes some pretty riveting entertainment.

On Saturday some of the BlackMilk crew dropped by my house so they could work on their shot list. Of course nothing is quite that simple. We’re talking about a bunch of creatives here.

At about 10pm they hauled out our cache of musical instruments and started making a god-awful racket with piano, accordion and violin. Which they recorded (well, of course).

Please bear in mind that none of them could actually **play** any of these instruments with any degree of proficiency.

They then started talking about doing a short film since they’re currently finding creative ways in which they can promote their DVD boxed set. So… On Sunday they got all dressed up, painted and posed…

And if you click through on the link here: http://www.youtube.com/blackmilkproductions#p/a/u/0/Sra94gOiSdI

Granted, I know everyone in this but when I saw the rushes as they came off the camera, I laughed so much I cried. I thought by the second or third time I saw this I’d not laugh as much but I was wrong.

You really have to watch this about two or three times just to get all the facial expressions. One day I’m sure I’ll write a novel about an indie filmmaking crew but for now I’m just stoked that I’m able to see things in action and watch these guys grow in their art.

It's a very inspiring to be surrounded by so many fascinating people and it's definitely making me feel that I'm not the only one fighting against mundania.

The idly curious are welcome to click through here to check out the official BlackMilk website. http://www.blackmilkproductions.com/

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can I have a coffee IV, please?

It never ends. And I never feel like I’ve done enough. Yesterday was a public holiday in South Africa and my husband and I spent the day at his office. He was busy on some awful newsletter of about 16 pages while I flattened about 40 000 words of editing. Half of this was for a Lyrical Press author I’m working with and the rest was my urban fantasy novel, Inkarna.

But there’s so much work that still needs to happen this year I’m honestly frightened because I don’t know when I’m going to find the time. This is without considering the editing work I do. Next on my “to do” list is second-round edits on my TherĂ©se von Willegen novel, Hell’s Music, which is due for line edits at the end of April. I need to finish way before then.

I still have my next urban fantasy novella to revise so I can submit to Lyrical, more vampires in a story entitled What Sweet Music They Make. Then I must finish writing a short fantasy romance story I still don’t have the right title for, though it’s called The Slavemaster’s Daughter. Tentatively. I’m about 6 000 words in. Let’s not even think about that one going anywhere any time soon. I still have to put it through my crit group.

The Black Goat is still languishing on my hard drive. I’ve done a major revision on chapter one but the novel’s been stagnant for such a long time I suspect I’m going to roar through it with massive revisions when I do get there. But let’s place emphasis on when. Ironically, it’s Inkarna that’s going onto the submissions mill way before The Black Goat, which was written more than a year ago.

On top of all this, I still have a safari-style erotic romance to write for the TherĂ©se von Willegen brand. And I’ve tentatively started outlining my next epic fantasy. Let’s not even suggest a working title for that one. You’re going to laugh. I’m calling it The Bird Girl because I can’t think of anything else right now.

Between this madness I’m still reading submissions from my existing authors and considering cold submissions that come through Lyrical. And I have a full-time day-job.

How the hell did this happen? Please can someone tell me because I honestly didn’t see this coming. I need another cup of coffee.

Now go and like my Facebook fan page, okay: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerine-Dorman-author/173330419365374?v=wall

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Color is Your (Character's) Aura?

Sonya's post about auras reminded me of a book I read once called What Color is Your Aura? The book, which I'm pretty sure I still have around here somewhere, is mostly one huge quiz.

It's an interesting book, even if you don't believe in auras. It's really a book to help you understand your personality.

As an author, I enjoy books like that. Not just for their insight into me, but also for insight into my characters.

Yes, I know I can make my characters do whatever I want them to. But even in the realm of paranormal fiction, I believe the character has to be "realistic." A werewolf must be part human, part wolf. An invisible man must deal with the issue of clothing. At some point a ghost must realize he or she is dead.

Characters must fit the story. If the character isn't believable, the story won't hold up. Therefore, I like those personality quizzes so I have a great idea of how my characters would act in a given situation. (I also look up their Sun and Moon signs for an astrological look into their personalities.)

If you can't tell, I enjoy the character driven stories. In my mind, nothing is as interesting as people and why they do whatever they do. Finding out what color their aura is, what their moon sign is, and even which Michael Jackson dance step they are most like is important to me.

So, what are your favorite personality quizzes? I'd love to know!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A character who sees auras

One of my favorite things about writing in the paranormal genre is it lets me indulge my curiosity about weird stuff. Actually, that could probably be said about most any genre. But it works really well with paranormal!

There's a funny scene in one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous. The fifteen year old fledgling Rolling Stone music reporter is on the phone with him mom, trying to convince her he's okay and that she has no reason to worry about him being on the road with a rock band. There's a couple of groupies trying to talk to him at the same time, hydroponic pot is mentioned at alarming volume, and then one of the girls starts talking about how she can see his aura. The kid tells his mom he can't hear her and of course HydroPot Groupie thinks he's talking to her. So she starts yelling, "I CAN SEE YOUR AURA! IT'S REALLY PURPLE!" Or something like that, and the poor kid looks like he wants to crawl under a rock.

This horrifying exchange is pretty representative of the average person's view of people who claim they can see auras: hippies high on hydroponic pot, flaky new-age types with fake names like Raven Granola Moonbeam or Crystal Glitter Dragonrider. I find the idea of being able to read auras a bit disconcerting. First let's talk about what an aura is: an energy field that radiates several inches out from the body, with colors that can represent everything from emotions and personality to physical health and psychological state. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a character who could see the aura and interpret what they mean. How old was she when this "auric vision" started? Did she have any understanding as to what she was seeing, have some idea why her vision began to resemble a hazy Impressionist painting? How does she learn to interpret those colors? Does she base her interpretation on something like chakras, witchcraft color correspondences, pure intuition, or a combination of methods? Is she able to turn it off and on, so to speak? Because turning it off would become very important, not only for her peace of mind but in order to respect the privacy of those around her. Think about it - your aura could act as a giant mood ring and tell the reader what you're feeling, whether you want those feelings known publicly or not. Would you want someone to "read" you like that? Would you want such an intimate glimpse into the emotions of others, including random strangers you're in line with at the grocery store?

And if a character were able to see auric energy, what else can they see? Spectral energy? Ghosts? Deciding the answer was "yes, ghosts!" I had my main character for my upcoming release Mojo Queen. Her name is Roxanne Mathis and she is a paranormal investigator who uses her ability to see auras and spectral energy to help people who are in over their heads with supernatural problems. That's not all she uses, but we'll talk about hoodoo another time. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Less than a week before release date...

The day started with good intentions and I actually had the snippet that would lead to me having something vaguely intelligent to relate about being an author but, as per the risks of working in the media industry, things went south fairly quickly. Suffice to say this blog post will be a quick and excited heads up that my urban fantasy novella, The Namaqualand Book of the Dead will be releasing on March 21.

Why should you read it?

It's set in contemporary South Africa, damn it! I'm pulling a Poppy Z Brite move on Cape Town. If New Orleans captured the imagination of dozens of readers, I counter by saying that the Mother City offers equal allure.

Step into my West Coast Gothic romance with a twist of fang.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bright sparks during an otherwise awful week

Sometimes in the midst of all the dross, some good things do happen. I’m going to be blunt. I had a really terrible time of last week. It was a combination of the pre-production stress my husband’s film production company is going through (I’m talking near-endless meetings almost every night of the week) and also a lot of car trouble.

I find it easier to get by if my home life is running smoothly but last week it didn’t, and it had a horrid knock-on effect on my overall mindset. Coupled with this was the nagging sense that nothing good was happening for my writing career.

Most of us who are published can attest to the fact that things seem to occur in fits and starts. We can go for weeks without any feedback then suddenly get a stunning review or be contacted by someone who’d like to feature our book on their blog. Or, it can go totally the opposite, with a spate of rejections followed by one or two bad reviews. This happens. It’s a see-saw existence and we have to take the highs with the lows.

But I've had two good things happen this past week...

A chance conversation with one of my editors at the newspapers about the pitfalls of self-publishing electronically resulted in her commissioning an article, which was published in The Star before being archived on our website: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/books/bringing-new-writers-to-book-1.1035338

Then, an added bit of happiness came when one of my reviews also went to print in The Star: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/books/bullet-1.1035348

I guess life isn’t all bad and, even if it is, it’s important that we, as writers, need to carry on working, blogging, writing, revising and reading. We have to understand that life rarely if ever goes smoothly, and that whatever gets thrown our way, no matter how horrid, merely prepares us for the next wave of stress. And, you know what? The next time something ugly rears its head, we’re better prepared for dealing with it.

And there will always be a few bright sparks along the way.

Oh, and you can always "like" me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerine-Dorman-author/173330419365374?v=wall

Every little bit counts.

Girl power!

Love her or hate her, she has shaped at least two generations of women. She's a doctor, a lawyer, a princess, a fighter pilot, and a rock star. She has family, friends, and a steady man.

She's changed a bit in the past 50+ years. She was originally a woman of "ill reputation," even, though she's long since lost that image.

She has a car, a house, a swimming pool, and pets. She is known world-wide and her very name conjures deep emotion from many people.

You name it, she can do it.

Barbie turns 52 this week. She doesn't look a day over 19.

I'll admit I enjoyed my Barbie. My mom enjoyed hers. Both my girls enjoyed theirs. I'll also admit that I'm not a big fan of the "shape" Barbie is in. I'd much rather her be more...well...normal. Maybe 10 or 15 pounds overweight. A crooked smile. Her nose a little off-center. A little smaller "up top," as my grandmother would say.

But for all her faults, Barbie did one thing really, really well. She taught little girls that they can be anything. She provided an additional outlet for imagination. That's the reason my girls had Barbies and that's what I consider to be her biggest legacy.

Here's to another generation of girl power!

Read more about Barbie's history here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mimosas At Dusk

Mojo Queen will be out in two months and to gear up for the release I've got two short stories about main character Roxanne Mathis and her best friend Daniel to post as free downloads. First up is Mimosas At Dusk.


Paranormal investigator Roxanne Mathis thinks her latest job is a simple ghost eviction. When she discovers the ghost might not be the scariest thing in the house, it will either send her screaming into the night or be the beginning of her strangest friendship.


I knew it wouldn’t work, though. This stubborn old ghost called for a serious banishing. Holy water, bells, candles, the works. Damn it, I might even have to chant. There was a bag full of all the supplies I’d need in the trunk of my car, but was it really a good idea to do this with a dead body in the foyer? There would be enough awkward questions from cops. I didn’t need to add, “why did you wait so long to call 911?” to the list. I glanced around for a phone, distracted by a soft moan.

The dead guy on the floor, the one with no pulse and a cracked skull, sat up and gave me a wide grin. “Guess I shouldn’t have got in the ghost’s way, huh?”

One word screamed through my brain as I gaped at him: FANGS.

Mimosas At Dusk is 3840 words, about ten pages. It is available for download in three formats:

MOBI for Kindle
EPUB for Nook/Sony

This should give you a little taste of what the Mojo world is like and hopefully serve as an entertaining introduction to Roxie and Daniel. You don't have to read this or the second short story to read Mojo Queen - think of them as extra goodies. But you will have to wait for Mojo Queen to meet Blake the Sexy Sorcerer. ;-)

I hope you enjoy Mimosas at Dusk and feel free to spread the word. Blog it, Tweet it, Facebook it, even (gasp!) speak to someone face to face about it. :-) And feel free to let me know what you think - you know the only thing a writer loves more than fresh coffee is feedback!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The story behind Inkarna

Ashton Kennedy wasn’t a nice guy. He cheated on his girlfriend, knocked up a powerful drug lord’s sister, and abused vast quantities of illegal narcotic substances. The guy who ran him over with a big shiny SUV was doing the world a favour. His very male and rather tattooed body is the last place Elizabeth Rae Perry – a member of an ancient Egyptian cult – expected to reincarnate in, instead of the three-year-old girl she’d been promised.

Not only must she now come to terms with her new existence in the body of a rather disagreeable man, and clean up the mess he made of his life, she also has to unravel the mystery of why House Adamastor’s chapter house is standing empty and find a way to protect a dangerous secret she had no idea she was supposed to keep. As if fate couldn’t deal her another blow, she has also attracted the attention of a very malicious and potentially dangerous ghost.

* * * *

Well, there you have it. My current “heart” book is complete and subbed out for its initial round of submissions. Inkarna was sparked by death. The first was that of a musician who was and is one of my heroes. I had a peculiar dream about him the week he died, before I knew he’d gone. I dreamt that I, as a woman, was walking around in this 6-foot body, shouldering past people, somehow in his frame. The disjointedness of the difference in how a woman and a man move really freaked me out. It was one of those dreams that didn’t just vanish with the dawn. I wrote it down in my journal. A few weeks later I had another dream. I was having a conversation with this man then had a point of lucidity. I told him, “You’re dead,” and he replied, “But you’re dreaming.” It was just weird. It left me rattled for days. I still get gooseflesh when I think of those two dreams and their impact on my subconscious.

Then one of my best friends died. Shaen had been sick for a while. I’d been editing his book and had always held a wild hope he’d somehow beat the cancer and we’d one day sit around a table chugging back beers again. That never happened. Shaen passed away on Halloween. Typical of him. Gotta give him points for style. I cried my heart out for him, for the guilt of being one left behind, for not having (in my mind) been a good enough friend. Because I never went to see him when he’d been in hospital. I couldn’t face the trauma of seeing a once-vital man reduced to an animated corpse on life support.

We gave him a great send-off, Egyptian style. He wrote his own funerary rites and we held an awe-inspiring celebration for him on the banks of the Crocodile River, hosted at a private lodge near Johannesburg. I dreamt about Shaen too, about three days after his death. We stood on a beach, and he was as I remembered him, in his better days. We spoke about his book, and my sorrow that he’d not been able to finish his work. I felt in a way I had to take up where he’d left off and he told me not to, that it was enough that his work had touched me, and that I must be true to my art and my magic and not take on the words of others.

Inkarna came into being round about the time of Shaen’s death but my entire year had been tinged with a grief, of a constant gnawing strain that eventually resulted in my own emotional breakdown. I stared death in the face and I realised I wasn’t ready to go.

What if we had a second chance, to put things right?

A week after my meltdown, a friend of ours committed suicide.

On December 28 I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to write Inkarna and I didn’t stop until the first week of February. I had to write this book. It was catharsis, a way to come to terms with my own mortality, a way to put all the pain I’ve been carrying in me, the sorrow, into words.
I can step back now. I feel relieved. Empty. Ready to go onto other projects. In many ways last year was hell. The person who’s writing these words has a clean slate. She’s colder, more in command. That other part of her has died and it’s good to have clarity of mind to continue.